Being selected in the NFL Draft marks a life-changing event for most players. For Jakkarist McKinley, it not only signaled a life-changing event, but a moment in which he successfully navigated his promise to his late grandmother to fruition over making the league.
After the Atlanta Falcons traded up with the Seattle Seahawks to tab McKinley with the 26th overall selection, the defensive end held up a large portrait of his late grandma on the NFL Draft stage in Philadelphia and delivered a hyped Draft speech for the ages.
"It means everything, man ... I made a promise to her," McKinley told Hall of Famer turned analyst Deion Sanders. "Like I said, I was going to go D-I. I was going to get out of Richmond [California]. I was going to get out of Oakland. I was going to live my dream to play in the NFL. And I'm here, man. I completed the promise. That means every f**king thing to me."
He added he shared his promise to his grandmother 30 seconds before she passed away.
"This is who I do it for!" he yelled. "This is who I do it for, man!"
Watch McKinley make his passionate speech below.
After letting "f**king" fly out of his mouth in the moment, the pass rusher joked about how hyped up he was.
"I probably went on stage and probably said a few curse words and kind of slipped up," McKinley said, as reported by ESPN. "Probably got fined already before I even got my contract."
McKinley said Sanders offered him priceless advice on how to channel those emotions on the field afterward.
"He said it's good for me to have that emotion, that fire, he said I just need to find a way to manage it," McKinley added. "He just [told] me I've got to be able to control it but keep it as well because that's who I am and that's how I play."
McKinley's fire and raw emotion already made fans of Falcons coach Dan Quinn and the team's Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who welcomed the 21-year-old to ATL with open arms.
"You get the text from people [and] it's like, 'I love that kind of passion,'" Quinn said, as reported by ESPN. "And he is an emotional guy. You can imagine the energy that he brings to a team and to a locker room, so we encourage that, the enthusiasm."
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